Boasting a cool climate and spectacular vistas over rice terraces and hazy peaks, Sapa sits on the edge of a high plateau in Vietnam’s far north. Founded as a hill station for the French in Hanoi in 1922 there are few colonial buildings left but the main reason to visit Sapa is for the colourful hill tribes that live in the area.
In Sapa itself and the area surrounding it live a number of ethnic minority groups, many still living the subsistence lifestyle of their ancestors. There are eight groups in total but the most numerous, and the ones you are most likely to see, are the H’Mong and Dao groups. Dressed in their colourful costume, many tribesmen and women come to Sapa to sell their handmade wares, but you can also head out into the beautiful scenery to visit the traditional tribes villages.
Although originally just at the weekend Sapa’s market has become so popular it is now open every day, with minority people travelling in from the surrounding villages to sell crafts, bags and clothing. The food stalls are also well worth a visit, dolling out freshly prepared Vietnamese cuisine to order. For those looking for a more authentic market experience, head out of Sapa to the weekend markets at Can Cau and Bac Ha, which offer a more fair-like atmosphere.
Gentle walks and more demanding treks through the verdant landscape are plentiful around the town. Whether you are looking to purely enjoy the scenery or to visit one of the minority villages, your guide will be able to help you make your trek as easy, hard, long or short as you like.
To gain a more authentic glimpse into the lives of the minority hilltribe groups that live around Sapa, talk to us about adding a homestay onto your trek (or just on to your Sapa visit). You will stay in basic accommodation in the house of a hilltribe family, eat with them and chat with them about their lives.
A traditional mountain chalet in appearance, the Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa sits just above Sapa offering breath-taking views across the rice terraces and surrounding forest to the mountains beyond. Whilst the hotel was designed to blend in with its surroundings there is plenty of opportunity to unwind whilst your room's private terrace is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with lovely local touches.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.